At Palam airport, Prince Charles took me aside and said, ‘I would very much like to come again in October for a longer stay. If that is convenient to you, but without Uncle Dickie.’
Jawaharlal Nehru attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1952. The Commonwealth was than a small organisation. The Queen became Head of Commonwealth the same year. Till 1947 it was a white man’s club: United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. India and Pakistan became members on becoming independent. Ceylon followed in 1948. In 1957, Ghana became the eighth member.
Government has taken the correct decision for President Droupadi Murmu to represent India at the funeral of the Queen. She will get to know many of her counterparts. Several hundred Heads of State and Government have been invited. Most will be in London by the 18 September. Will President Xi of China and President Putin attend? The funeral is on the 19th.
No country can outdo the United Kingdom in planning and organising ceremonial events. The late Queen’s journey from Buckingham Place to Westminster Hall on 14 September was as memorable as it was spectacular.
The world is running out of monarchies. UK, Japan, followed by Cambodia, Thailand, Brunei, the Malay Kingdoms, Bhutan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Kingdoms. The last eight are not democracies.
Has the British monarchy a future? The Queen was widely admired, popular and respected. King Charles III is not endowed with these indispensable qualities. I have met him three or four times. The first time in February 1975 in New Delhi. He was accompanied by Lord Mountbatten. They stayed in New Delhi for two days.
I was then Deputy High Commissioner in London. I came to New Delhi a couple of days before the arrival of Prince Charles and Uncle Dickie. They left Delhi for Kathmandu after two days to attend the coronation of the King of Nepal. By then, Charles was somewhat irritated with Mountbatten.
At Palam airport, Prince Charles took me aside and said, “I would very much like to come again in October for a longer stay. If that is convenient to you, but without Uncle Dickie.”
“Your Royal Highness, you are most welcome.”
King Charles III is 73 years of age. Will he attain the age of his mother? That will certainly prolong the life of Britain’s monarchy.
Rahul Gandhi is fifty-two years of age. He looks fit and healthy. As far as one knows, he has not been a patient admitted to a hospital even once. If anyone completes the Bharat Jodo Yatra it will be Rahul, provided he does not decide to go on a trip outside India.
The most famous yatra was Gandhiji’s in March-April 1930, from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi to break the salt laws in March-April 1930. The Dandi march attracted worldwide attention.
Some years ago, Murli Manohar Joshiji walked from South India to Srinagar to hoist the BJP flag in Lal Chowk in Srinagar. He was then president of the BJP.
The late Prime Minister Chandra Shekharji and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Digvijaya Singh, also undertook shorter yatras.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra will take 150 days to reach Srinagar, a distance of 3,500 km from Kanyakumari.
What is the objective of the Bharat Jodo Yatra? Bharat remains united. No worthwhile government will permit dismemberment of the country. Interest in Rahul’s yatra will be eroded if the number of participants is dramatically reduced on the way to Srinagar. If 500 Congress walkers reach Srinagar, the Congress will earn some “kudos”. Its revival is a very distant dream. The malaise is too deep.
Roger Federer, the greatest tennis player of all time announced his retirement on Thursday. He is 41 years of age. His home is in Basel, Switzerland. What will he do now? The Secretary General of the UN should invite him to become a roving UN Ambassador for one of its agencies, e.g., Human Rights Commission.
Praveen Davar, a devoted Congressman for forty years has published a fascinating book of essays on India’s freedom movement, its founders and future leaders. Essays on Kashmir, Goa, World War II, B.R. Ambedkar, Operation Blue Star are also included. He writes with candour and conviction. “Freedom Struggle and Beyond” is an illuminating and worth reading book.